Fantasy Football Draft Strategy: Quarterbacks
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Highly Productive QBs Are Even More Prevalent
Many of you who are reading this are likely to have participated in fantasy football during the 2000s, and a number of you likely began owning teams in the ‘90s. If that includes you, then you undoubtedly are familiar with the draft strategy of selecting RBs with each of your first two draft picks. That practice was essentially unchallenged for numerous years by fantasy experts and owners alike. And it was extremely logical considering the mammoth emphasis that NFL franchises placed upon their rushing attacks. Some owners even employed three of their first four picks to quickly build a stable of backs, while the quarterbacks and wide receiver positions were designated with lower priorities during the draft process. But that philosophy began to evolve in recent years to correspond with alterations in the offensive approach by NFL teams. The degree to which passing attacks have exploded has been well chronicled, as has the fact that highly productive QBs have become increasingly prevalent. Signal callers are now entrusted with an ever increasing responsibility to generating sizable yardage and TDs. That in turn has entrenched them atop the fantasy point leader board in recent years. And that will occur again this season, as prolific QB play should be more prevalent than ever for fantasy owners. The influx of exceptional new talent at the position during the 2012 season – RG3, Andrew Luck, Russell Wilson, and Colin Kaepernick – will merge with the collection of highly effective veterans to supply a massive number of enticing options during your drafts this summer.
A Different Approach In 2013
While I could inundate you with endless numbers that underscore this fact, I will simply provide you with results in one category, which should exemplify just how significantly NFL franchises have ramped up their passing attacks. In both 2005 and 2006, only three QBs attempted 500 passes. Last season, there were a whopping 18. And that number is not an aberration, as there were 16 signal callers who launched that many throws in 2011. Plus, rushing yardage will once again be a factor when making your choices, as Griffin, Wilson, Kaepernick and Cam Newton all ran for over 400 yards last season, while Griffin, Newton, Kaepernick and Luck all scored at least five times on the ground. With so many viable options what is the wisest plan for you to adopt, toward securing a QB who can lead you to fantasy victories? Glad that you asked. Because the approach that I am recommending this season has been revised from the manner in which I believed that owners should proceed one year ago. At that time, three QBs stood out to the degree that they comprised their own tier. Because Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady and Drew Brees accumulated such impressive numbers in 2011, that I was a huge proponent of selecting a member of that trio in Round 1, once Arian Foster, Ray Rice and LeSean McCoy had departed the draft board.
The Value In Waiting To Draft Your QB
However, this summer I simply cannot sign-off on the idea of selecting your QB in Round 1. And I would also lean against choosing a signal caller in Round 2. First, because the previously discussed injection of young signal callers will blend with the resurrection of Peyton Manning to supply you with a collection of feasible alternatives to Rodgers, Brady and Brees. Particularly when you remind yourself to emphasize value drafting. Even though the signal callers that I mentioned will have led your leagues in scoring last season, you can’t just look at how many points a player scored. Instead, you must examine how his points compare to the other performers at his position. That is the essence of value based drafting (VBD). The point totals for the five QBs that I consider to be elite – Rodgers, Brees, Brady, Manning and Newton – are higher than other QBs who start in a standard 12 team league. But how does that difference contrast with the disparity that you will find at RB and WR? You will find a more sizable decline in points from the top backs as the numbers descend toward the 24th back in a league that starts two RBs, than you will when you compare the top scoring QB to the 12th highest scoring signal caller. Meanwhile, you should also notice a considerable disparity between Calvin Johnson and the lower sections of your top 24 WRs. When I have reviewed the scoring that occurred last season from six of the leagues that I participated in, I see the most drop-off at RB. While the difference between the elite QBs and the 12th starting signal caller does not have the severity that I find with the variation between the unrivaled Megatron and the 20th-24th WRs.
You Should Rush To Draft Your RB1
The second reason that I would delay the selection of your QB until at least Round 3 is that it will be more critical for you to secure your RB1 first. Otherwise, you will risk facing an uphill battle that will seldom or never be won in the ongoing attempts to match fantasy points with your opponents who already possess at least one highly productive back. The number of workhorse running backs continues to dwindle, as most backs possess at least one teammate that poses a potential threat to siphon off carries. Which brings us to the often discussed, and always dreaded running back by committee approach (RBBC). Not only will it more predominant than ever this year, but teams that possess mobile QBs will continue to find creative ways to maximize their rushing ability (as mentioned previously). That will include scripted plays that take advantage of athleticism, and further diminish the opportunities for some running backs.
Elite WRs Will Quickly Become Unavailable
Which is not to advocate that you should automatically revert to the old theory that espoused drafting RBs with your first two picks. Because you should strongly consider securing someone from within the select group of elite receivers before the first two rounds have concluded. You don’t want to spend your season scrambling to compete for points at the WR position. But if you fail to garner a highly productive wideout very early in your draft, you risk being destined to expend considerable time and energy throughout the regular season frantically examining the waiver wire, and analyzing trade prospects. With no assurance that they solutions will supply you with sufficient relief. Conversely, if you secure an elite receiver before Round 3, the percentages are high that you will win many of your matchups at this position during the season. Plus, you will be adhering to the value drafting, which will still enable you to garner a high quality QB at any point forward. For the purposes of this article, I believe that there are eight WRs that should be targeted prior to Round 3 – Megatron (of course), Dez Bryant, A. J. Green, Brandon Marshall, Julio Jones, Demaryius Thomas, Percy Harvin, and Roddy White.
It’s Round 3 – Now What?
Which takes us back to my assertion that you should wait until at least Round 3 to select your QB. However, I am not an advocating that you adopt a rigid mindset of waiting until the middle portion of your drafts to select your QB regardless of any circumstances. You should not be overly fixated on a specific approach to such a large degree that you deny yourself opportunities that arise. Instead, you should always have enough flexibility to examine the flow of your drafts as they develop. Even though that process can occur very rapidly. If an elite QB is still available as you enter round 3, the scoring differential that a this premier signal caller can provide is too important to pass up in favor of a blanket philosophy. Yes, waiting until Round 3 will likely prohibit you from having Rodgers, Brees or Brady on your roster. And could easily keep you from having the opportunity to draft Manning and Newton. But it is still possible that one of these signal callers will still be available. And if so, you can grab him. Then, you will have a “big three” if you will, consisting of your QB1, RB1, and WR1. But if you are more comfortable securing a second back or a second wideout in Round 3, you can certainly justify waiting a little longer before choosing your QB. As you enter Round 4, you should still find a collection of highly productive QBs available. Specifically, Matt Ryan, Kaepernick, Wilson, Luck and Matthew Stafford. Ryan and Kaepernick are the only QBs from that assortment that I would recommend considering this early. As always, the specific scoring in your leagues should be a factor in your decision making. If QBs are awarded four points for passing TDs, while rushing and receiving scores gather six points, than the slot at which you select your signal caller might differ when compared to a league in which passing TDs receive six points.
Draft A Top 10 QB
Even though I believe that you can afford to bypass Rodgers, Brady and Brees in Rounds 1 and 2 this season, I do recommend that you capture one of the top 10 signal callers that I have listed below. Because depending upon anyone who is not within that collection is too risky. The one caveat to his is if RG3 can demonstrate that he will be sufficiently healthy when the season commences. In which case you can add him to the list of QBs that I would entrust to start on my fantasy rosters. Their names are accompanied by the point within the draft that I would select them.
- Aaron Rodgers Early Round 3
- Drew Brees Early Round 3
- Tom Brady Early Round 3
- Peyton Manning Early Round 4
- Cam Newton Early Round 4
- Matt Ryan Late Round 4
- Colin Kaepernick Early Round 5
- Matthew Stafford Middle Round 5
- Russell Wilson Middle Round 5
- Andrew Luck Middle Round 5
This does not imply a guarantee that they will be available at the point that I am listing, as another owner certainly might have already garnered them by that round. But the listed rounds consist of the points at which their value dictates that they should be selected. If another owner chooses to reach for a signal caller before that, then you are very likely to benefit. Especially, if you exercise patience and flexibility during your drafts. Good Luck. And even though you might immerse yourself with analysis, make sure make sure that you still enjoy the process.